Peter Altmaier

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Peter Altmaier
Minister of Finance
Assumed office
24 October 2017
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Wolfgang Schäuble
Chancellery Chief of Staff
Minister of Special Affairs
Assumed office
17 December 2013
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Ronald Pofalla
Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety
In office
22 May 2012 – 17 December 2013
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Norbert Röttgen
Succeeded by Barbara Hendricks
Personal details
Born (1958-06-18) 18 June 1958 (age 59)
Ensdorf, West Germany (now Germany)
Political party Christian Democratic Union
Alma mater Saarland University

Peter Altmaier (born 18 June 1958) is a German politician serving as the Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery and as Federal Minister for Special Affairs since December 2013. Previously he was Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety from May 2012 to December 2013. Altmaier is widely seen as one of Chancellor Angela Merkel's most trusted advisors[1][2] and respected for his "compromising style."[3] He has been described as "The most powerful man in Berlin".[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Altmaier was born on 18 June 1958 in Ensdorf, Saarland. He is the son of a coal miner and a nurse.[5][6] He studied law at Saarland University.[5]

In addition to his native German, he speaks English, Dutch and French fluently.[citation needed] He is known for his intellect, which some "feel intimidated by".[4] In 2012, Altmaier was outed as homosexual by German newspapers Taz and[7]

Early career[edit]

Altmaier began his career as a research assistant for public and international law at Saarland University in 1995 and later at the European Institute of Saarland University. His tenure lasted until 2000.[5] He worked for the Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs of the European Commission from 1990 to 1994.

Political career[edit]

Altmaier has been a member of the CDU since 1976.

Member of the Bundestag, 1994–present[edit]

Altmaier has been a member of the Bundestag since the 1994 national elections. Between 1994 and 2002, he served on the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Committee on Affairs of the European Union, where he was his parliamentary group’s rapporteur on matters related to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

When the Bundestag created a committee to examine whether then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and others in the governing SPD party inflated economic figures before the 2002 federal elections to hide a growing budget deficit, he was chosen by his parliamentary group to lead the inquiry.[8]

From 2006 to 2011 Altmaier was president of Europa-Union Deutschland, the German section of the Union of European Federalists.

Parliamentary State Secretary, 2005–09[edit]

Following the 2005 federal elections, Altmaier became Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of the Interior under Wolfgang Schäuble. In this capacity, he publicly admitted in 2009 that Germany followed a request of the government of Saudi Arabia it to grant influential cleric Abdullah Ibn Jibreen police protection in a Berlin hospital where he was undergoing heart treatment; the decision garnered sharp criticism from the opposition parties, with the Green Party questioning why Germany hosted someone who "has called for the killing of Shiites [and] praised Osama bin Laden."[9]

In 2009, Altmaier was mentioned by international media as potential candidate for the office of European Commissioner.[10]

Chief whip, 2009–12[edit]

Succeeding Norbert Röttgen as parliamentary secretary (chief whip) of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag following the 2009 elections, Altmaier was in charge of negotiating the passage of Eurozone crisis legislation through the parliament. He served as the government’s chief negotiator with the opposition Social Democrats and Greens, as well as with potential rebels from the government benches.[1]

In 2012, Altmaier also served as chairman of the Parliamentary Control Panel (PKGr), which provides parliamentary oversight of Germany’s intelligence services BND, BfV and MAD.

Return to the Federal Government[edit]

On 22 May 2012, Altmaier replaced Norbert Röttgen as Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in the second Merkel cabinet.[11]

While in office, Altmaier coordinated the government's efforts to exit nuclear power generation by 2022 and rely on more renewable sources such as wind and solar ("Energiewende").[12] He also demanded companies to harvest metals including rare earths from recycled electronics as Germany sought to become less dependent on imports from China and other nations.[13] Together with his French counterpart Delphine Batho, he put in motion the establishment of the French-German Office for Renewable Energies (L'Office franco-allemand pour les énergies renouvelables) in 2013.[14]

In 2012, Altmaier led the German delegation to the 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Doha.[15]

In 2013, Altmaier and Economics Minister Philipp Rösler reached agreement on far-reaching regulations for the fracking industry.[16][17]

Chief of Staff of the Federal Chancellery, 2013–present[edit]

In the negotiations to form a government following the 2013 federal elections, Altmaier led the CDU/CSU delegation in the energy working group; his co-chair from the SPD was Hannelore Kraft, Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia.[18] In Angela Merkel's third Cabinet he serves as the Chief of Staff of the Federal Chancellery and a Federal Minister for Special Affairs. In this capacity, he is also in charge of co-ordinating Germany’s intelligence services.[19]

In July 2015, Altmaier invited the United States Ambassador to Germany, John B. Emerson, to explain documents publicized by WikiLeaks that showed what appeared to be summaries of recorded conversations involving Chancellor Merkel or senior officials. Shortly after, WikiLeaks released additional documents including Altmaier’s telephone number, adding to a growing pile of allegations that United States intelligence agencies conducted extensive surveillance of the German government.[20]

In October 2015, Merkel put Altmaier in charge of coordinating Germany's response to the refugee crisis.[21] Since early 2017, he has been a member of the German government's cabinet committee on Brexit at which ministers will discuss organizational and structural issues related to the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union.[22]

Following the 2017 elections, Altmaier reportedly is to become acting and temporary finance minister when Wolfgang Schäuble leaves office; Schäuble had earlier agreed to become President of the Bundestag.[23]

Political positions[edit]

Altmaier belongs to the more liberal wing of the CDU.[24] In the 1990s, Altmaier advocated the rehabilitation of armed-forces deserters and new measures against rape within marriage. He was integral to the Pizza Connection, a group of moderate CDU and Green Party politicians – including Hermann Gröhe, Armin Laschet and Cem Özdemir – who met at Sassella, an Italian restaurant in Bonn.[4]

Responding to a growing unease over Germany's role in bailing out highly indebted European states, Altmaier in 2011 demanded that states that violate the EU's Stability and Growth Pact should be subject to the European Court of Justice.[25] That same year, he advised against Germany pursuing a prompt debt haircut for Greece and warned of the consequences. According to Altmaier, the banks must be supported, in Greece and elsewhere, and the European Financial Stability Facility might have to issue guarantees for the holders of Italian and Spanish bonds, because they also fear that they will be asked to pay up.[26]

Other activities (selection)[edit]

Corporate boards[edit]

  • RAG-Stiftung, Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Trustees (since 2017)[27]
  • KfW, Ex-Officio Member of the Board of Supervisory Directors (2013)[28]



  1. ^ a b Quentin Peel (16 May 2012), Merkel sacks minister after election defeat Financial Times.
  2. ^ Euro Group Delays Meeting: Berlin Grows Impatient over Greece Spiegel Online, 15 February 2012.
  3. ^ Stefan Wagstyl (14 December 2013), Germany’s SPD backs coalition with Merkel’s CDU Financial Times.
  4. ^ a b c Jeremy Cliffe (12 April 2017). "Who is Peter Altmaier and why does he matter?". The Economist. Retrieved 13 April 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c "Profile: Peter Altmaier, the new power in Germany's shake-up". Recharge. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  6. ^ Quentin Peel and Gerrit Wiesmann (12 September 2011), Merkel chief whip set on EU reform Financial Times.
  7. ^"taz" entschuldigt sich für Altmaier-Outing - zu Unrecht! (German)
  8. ^ Desmond Butler (22 December 2002), Panel to Decide If Schröder Lied On Economy New York Times.
  9. ^ Souad Mekhennet (17 June 2009), Saudi Cleric With Militant Views Paid Medical Visit to Germany New York Times.
  10. ^ Simon Taylor (April 28, 2009), Steinmeier expects Czech ‘Yes’ to Lisbon treaty European Voice.
  11. ^ "Merkel Fires Environment Minister Roettgen". Der Spiegel. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  12. ^ Stefan Nicola (27 September 2013), Merkel Ally Altmaier Wants Germany to Boost Climate Protection Bloomberg.
  13. ^ Stefan Nicola (24 April 2013), Germany’s Altmaier Wants Rare-Earths Recycling to Reduce Imports Bloomberg.
  14. ^ Geert De Clercq, Julien Ponthus, Andreas Rinke and Christoph Steitz (14 January 2014), Franco-German energy firm seen focused on renewables: sources Reuters.
  15. ^ Failed CO2 Targets: Going Through the Motions in Doha Der Spiegel, 26 November 2012.
  16. ^ Gas Guidelines: Berlin Agrees on Fracking Regulations Spiegel Online, 26 February 2013.
  17. ^ Lazar Backovic, Michael Kröger and Annett Meiritz (14 February 2013), Un-Natural Gas: Fracking Set to Shake Up German Campaign Spiegel Online.
  18. ^ Annika Breidthardt and Gernot Heller (26 October 2013), Germany may see higher tax revenues, could play role in talks Reuters.
  19. ^ Toby Vogel (16 December 2013), New German government to be sworn in tomorrow European Voice.
  20. ^ Alison Smale (8 July 2015), German Aides’ Phone Numbers Appear on U.S. Intelligence Documents New York Times.
  21. ^ Björn Hengst, Peter Müller, Ralf Neukirch, Conny Neumann and René Pfister (9 October 2015), Merkel Under Fire: German Conservatives Deeply Split over Refugees Der Spiegel.
  22. ^ Joseph Nasr (January 13, 2017), Merkel to chair first Brexit committee meeting next week Reuters.
  23. ^ Thorsten Severin and Andrea Shalal (September 29, 2017), Germany's Merkel to name aide Altmaier as stand-in finance minister: sources Reuters.
  24. ^ Kristen Allen (18 May 2012), The World from Berlin: 'The Chancellor Doesn't Have Many Allies Left' Spiegel Online, 26 February 2013.
  25. ^ Andreas Rinke (6 September 2011), Germans seek court solution to enforce deficit rules Reuters.
  26. ^ Peter Müller, Christoph Pauly, Christoph Schult, Anne Seith and Dimitri Soibel (17 October 2011), Will Merkel Take The Reins? Europe Deeply Divided Ahead of Make-or-Break Summit Der Spiegel.
  27. ^ Board of Trustees RAG-Stiftung.
  28. ^ 2014 Annual Report KfW.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ronald Pofalla
Chancellery Chief of Staff
Minister for Special Affairs
Preceded by
Wolfgang Schäuble
Minister of Finance